News Briefs: Rainbow Railroad ED coming to SF

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Wednesday May 10, 2023
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Rainbow Railroad Executive Director Kimahli Powell. Photo: Courtesy Kimahli Powell
Rainbow Railroad Executive Director Kimahli Powell. Photo: Courtesy Kimahli Powell

The executive director of Rainbow Railroad, Kimahli Powell, will be in San Francisco Tuesday, May 16, at 6:30 p.m. at the LGBT Community Center, 1800 Market Street.

Rainbow Railroad is a nonprofit based in Toronto, Canada that helps LGBTQ+ people around the world through emergency relocation, financial assistance, and crisis response.

Powell's upcoming visit will be to talk about Welcome Corps, a program it is partnering on with the U.S. State Department. The program is modeled on Rainbow Railroad and allows Americans to help LGBTQ+ people to safety in the U.S. through private sponsorship.

To RSVP, click here.

Lambda Legal to celebrate 50th anniversary in SF

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund will celebrate its 50th anniversary with its Spring Soirée in San Francisco Wednesday, May 24, and honor the plaintiffs in the Strauss v. Horton lawsuit, the 2008 legal case that challenged Proposition 8, California's same-sex marriage ban.

Prominent attorney and pro bono counsel to Lambda Legal Ruth Borenstein and her spouse, longtime community leader Karen Strauss, were plaintiffs in the California Supreme Court case that protected the marriages of the 18,000 same-sex couples who tied the knot before Prop 8's passage in November 2008. (In separate litigation, Prop 8 was later ruled unconstitutional by a federal court, which an appeals court upheld. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 decided that the ruling against Prop 8 could go into effect, which resulted in same-sex marriage becoming legal in the Golden State two years before the high court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision did the same thing nationwide.)

The Strauss v. Horton case "established essential due process rights of all Californians, and it took great courage for these women and our other plaintiffs in that high-profile case to be public about how Prop 8 denied them and their loved ones happiness and legal security in the face of health threats and other vulnerabilities," stated Jennifer Pizer, Lambda Legal's chief legal officer.

As a partner in the Morrison & Foerster law firm, Borenstein dedicated thousands of pro bono hours to advancing legal rights of LGBTQ+ people as co-counsel with Lambda Legal and other organizations, a news release stated. Strauss was a top leader of the Lesbian Rights Project of Equal Rights Advocate and was instrumental in its growth and transition into the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the release stated. She then served for many years as a top leader of the San Francisco Public Library's main branch.

"Karen and Ruth set a standard of civic leadership, generosity, and personal courage — standing up for our communities in contentious litigation, in their work lives, and as lifelong volunteers," Pizer added. "We are honored to honor them at this year's Spring Soirée."

Lambda Legal has for decades defended and advanced the civil rights of LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV.

The upcoming event will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Pearl, 601 19th Street. Tickets start at $275. To purchase tickets or for more information, click here.

Oakland has openings on commissions

Lesbian at-large Oakland City Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan is urging residents to apply for openings on various boards and commissions.

"The city of Oakland has over 40 boards and commissions that play a vital role in city government," Kaplan stated in an email announcement. "Boards and commissions serve as a mechanism for community members in Oakland to bring issues of concern to the attention of the general public and the City Council."

She added that councilmembers can suggest the appointments of community members and urged interested people to take a look at the various advisory bodies. According to the city's website, the planning commission currently has four vacancies, as does the homelessness commission. The Community Policing Advisory Board has seven vacancies and the Children's Fairyland Board has two vacancies. For a listing of all the boards and commissions, including vacancies, and to apply, click here.

Interested people can also contact Kaplan's office at [email protected]

SF DPH holding mpox vax events

San Francisco Department of Public Health officials have announced there will be upcoming mpox vaccination clinics and encourage people to get both the first and second shots.

As the Bay Area Reporter recently noted, local health officials are being vigilant after the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the U.S. could see a worse mpox outbreak this year. Last year's outbreak primarily affected men who have sex with men and their sexual partners. Several news outlets reported this week that Chicago has seen an uptick in mpox cases.

In San Francisco, mpox vaccines will be available at the SOMA Second Saturdays events that are co-sponsored by the Leather & LGBTQ Cultural District. The first one will be Saturday, May 13, with the second one occurring Saturday, June 10. Both will be from noon to 5 p.m. on 12th Street between Folsom and Harrison streets. If people get the first shot in May, they can get the second one in June, officials stated in a news release.

Drag for Democracy event

The League of Women Voters San Francisco and the League of Women Voters of California have announced a Drag for Democracy event Saturday, May 20, from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Commonwealth Club, 110 The Embarcadero in San Francisco.

The event will bring together the vibrant drag community and advocates for democracy for an evening of entertainment, education, and advocacy while honoring Bay Area leaders Honey Mahogany, a Black queer trans person who is chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party; gay state Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco); lesbian El Cerrito City Councilmember Carolyn Wysinger; and Matt Foreman, a gay man who's with the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Foundation. (The foundation announced in 2022 that it was ending all of its LGBTQ nonprofit grants in 2023, as the Bay Area Reporter previously reported.)

Entertainment will be provided by some of the city's most talented drag performers, organizers said.

"We are excited to bring together the dynamic drag community and passionate LGBTQ+ advocates for this fun and important event, especially with the increased attacks on the trans community, drag performers, and efforts to undermine our democracy," stated Alison Goh, president of the League of Women Voters San Francisco. "Our goal is to engage and educate voters on the importance of continuing to fight for a more just and equitable community for all Californians, and encourage them to participate in the democratic process."

Tickets are $125 for league members and $225 for non-league members and can be purchased at

Local Audubon group to change name

The Golden Gate Audubon Society's membership has voted in favor of dropping "Audubon" from its name and selecting a new name that better conveys its mission to protect birds and their habitat. The move mirrors actions taken by other independent Audubon chapters after a reevaluation of John James Audubon's suitability as a figurehead for a 21st century organization given his history as a slave owner, opponent of abolition, and robber of Native American graves, according to a news release from the local organization.

The National Audubon Society has decided to keep the name, that group announced in March.

"The challenges facing Bay Area birds in the 21st century are greater than ever and we need a name that will help us build the broadest coalition possible to protect them," stated Glenn Phillips, president of the Golden Gate chapter.

It was announced that 65% of the local group's membership favored the name change, according to the release.

Golden Gate Audubon leaders believe a new name will better communicate the work of the organization and the opportunities available to Bay Area residents to engage in protecting birds, the release stated.

The organization will now launch a process to select a new name. It plans to solicit pro bono services and resources for the process of rebranding.

For more information on the Golden Gate Audubon Society, visit

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